Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Teaser: Toa Maiden Fever Dream


This started out as a Bionicle Santa, which didn't work out too well, mostly because of the difficulty in making a convincing beard. Also making a plausible belly like a bowlful of jelly proved not easy. Robot monsters do not tend to rotundity. Except Tic-Toc. The closest I got was Santa Mantis and that was not satisfactory. It morphed into this more conventional ACTION FIGURE. Features to note:
  • Festive color scheme.
  • Cape!
  • Mantis-like head.
  • Golden bustle.
  • Articulated waist.
  • Gadgetized feet.


Talk to the hook!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Toa Maiden is betrayed

Last time, the Toa Maiden had met another Toa-like being also intent on helping a group of villagers. Some time later, the villagers prove to be not what they seem.
Coming soon: The Toa Maiden's Holiday Fever Dreams

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Crimson Pirate

Silly and unpretentious. I expect that today's kids would have no patience for it. There is lots of cinematic piratical goings-on, though and that is always a good thing.

Hell in the Pacific

Less cogent than I remembered. Alternate ending is far superior.

Underworld

Dull. Dumb. Lots of rubber body suits and outfits with many, many buckles. Kate Beckinsale looks like she is constantly being woken from a nap. Supporting actors are consistently stiff. Design of the movie is attractive.

Children of Heaven

Charming and timeless. Assumes fairy-tale like character as movie progresses. Recommended.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse

Lots of action. No second act slump. Keeps things moving. The moving things are utterly pointless and loud, but it goes, goes, goes.

A Wing and a Prayer

Unabashed propaganda has solid, too, too solid performances from everyone. Not bad but very much a journeyman product.

Twilight Samurai

Simple-seeming tale reveals layers very deliberately. Finale is choreographed beautifully and realistically. Recommended.

The Razor's Edge (1946)

A different focus than the Bill Murray version, which I now think compares well to the Tyrone Power effort. A generally stiff tone runs throughout. Clifton Webb totally steals all his scenes.

V for Vendetta

Holy cats, is John Hurt a creepy Big Brother! Lots of improbable swordplay. Hugo Weaving carries the whole thing on his diction, though. Could have been utterly farcical.

Storm Over Mont Blanc

Leni Reifenstal portrays an overly-romantic university student who complicates the monk-like calm of a weatherman stationed at the top of Mont Blanc. Amazing aerial photography. There is apparently a genre of mountain movies from between the wars in which Leni is the focus apart from the mountains.

Only Angels Have Wings

Almost my new favorite movie. Howard Hawks' fantasy of manly men flying aerocraft over the Andes and their womanly women making things complicated. More personal redemption per reel than is strictly necessary.

l'Age d'Or

Yeah, yeah, surreal. Wacky, grown-up, fun, pointed.
And it's on YouTube

The Forgotten

Rented as an antidote to Flightplan, this was better than I expected. It has not stayed with me however, much like an M. Night Shyamalan movie. Also owes a lot to X-Files.

You Only Live Twice

Baby-faced Henry Fonda becomes ur-fugitive. Proto-noir.

The Fighting Kentuckian

John Wayne blunders into devious plot and undoes complex social balance. Coonskin cohort provide muscle, laughs, realpolitik. Based on Bizarro-worls Napoleonic / American history.

The Kentuckian

Burt Lancaster escapes from tribal troubles in his homeland Kentucky to his brother who has established himself in the merchant class among strangers. Burt's rustic ways disturb the civilised status quo but he proves himself to the bourgeois when a pair of coonskin terminators arrive with long rifles blazing. Walter Mattau outstanding as money-crazed coward. Mustache-twirling, although expected, never happened and was not missed.
Also there were minstrels.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Jane Wyatt Passed Away

Jane Wyatt died in her sleep on Friday. She was 96.
She came to my attention playing the part of Spock's mother. I was too young to have seen her on Father Knows Best. Much later I discovered Lost Horizon and was much taken with Jane Wyatt's performance. That movie is one of my favorites, mostly for its Utopian mysticism, but also because of the character Sondra.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

Frenetic, entertaining claptrap. Makes no pretense at logic, continuity or characterization. Would Kierkegaard approve?

Flightplan

Contrived, manipulative rubbish. Greatest sin? May have leeched sales away from Snakes on a Plane. Avoid!

Great big moth



Someone left a very large moth on my desk. Neat!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Captain's Paradise

Mild farce, not quite droll. Not brilliant. Frequently maudlin.

Port of Shadows

Brilliant existential French noir. Great stuff.

The Train

Frankenheimer's commentary track is enlightening. Another member of the procedural genre. sub-genre: subverting oppression. sub-sub-genres: Nazis, trains.

Birdman of Alcatraz

Great age makeup. Burt Lancaster is totally believable. Edmond O'Brien provides frame and some narration. I cannot for the life of me figure out why such was included, except maybe to emphasize the contemporariness of the movie. I amuse myself by imagining O'Brien as the Bishop character from Alien with Burt in the role of Ripley. Think about it.

Jamaica Inn

In this reverse-pirate movie (land-lubbers attack ships, Robert Newton isn't a pirate), Charles Laughton's performance must be seen to be believed. Another in his roster of detestable-but-almost-lovable megalomaniacs: Caligula, Dr Moreau, Captain Kidd, Henry VII, etc. Maureen O'Hara is casually, powerfully athletic.

Sky High

Completely enjoyable. Except for the haircuts which are weirdly amateur. Not merely the live-action rehash of The Incredibles that I took it for.

Kundun

Ten years and approximately 20,000 'Free Tibet!' bumper stickers later, I have finally got around to watching Kundun. I expected a much more realistic movie than this set of postcards. If it hadn't said 'Martin Scorsese' about a dozen times before the first frame, I would never have guessed he was the director. Very enjoyable, including the scenes with Dr. No impersonating Chairman Mao. As propaganda, it's less successful. I mean, who doesn't loathe oppressive realpolitik and who isn't only incompletely suspicious of mysticism? One of the monks describes the Chinese generals as "the worst of the worst. They are worse than ghosts," which I took to be a pretty potent condemnation.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Swimmer

Burt Lancaster portrays a man who discovers that he is not a successful ad executive, husband, father, athlete and Lothario swimming from suburban pool to suburban pool in Connecticut, but a comatose human battery enslaved by machines in The Matrix.

White Heat

Terminator model T800 (Edmond O'Brien) hunts down last free human (Jimmy Cagney).

Monday, September 25, 2006

Snail, CD Player, Sunset

Picasa Web Albums - Kyle - September 25,...
Snapped the snail on the way to my car this morning. The Hello Kitty CD player has surprisingly good sound. A nice sunset to end the day.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The new economy sucks

Immigration raid cripples Ga. town: "Stacie Bell, 23, started work canning chicken at Crider a week ago. She said the pay, $7.75 an hour, led her to leave her $5.60-an-hour job as a Wal-Mart cashier in nearby Statesboro. Still, Bell said she felt bad about the raids."

Picasa Web Albums - Kyle - 20060918_craz...

Picasa Web Albums - Kyle - 20060918_craz... When I pulled up to the intersection, this bus was at the head of a slow parade of cars. It was rolling along at around 25 MPH, maybe more, but certainly well below the speed limit. At the light at 125th Ave, rather than proceeding directly through the light, the driver waved the left-turning traffic through (!) and then trundled on at the same slow speed. The penultimate insult was turning left onto the road in front of Fred Meyer's. I am pretty sure that this is not on a regular school route owing to the difficulty crossing against rush hour traffic. To finish things off, the driver stopped as soon as the bus cleared the intersection. Seems like a bad place to stop, as there are plenty of places to to stop nearer the middle of the block. A little red car put themselves in a bad spot because of it.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Final Fantasy

Better story than I expected. It's completely outrageous but it is so self-contained that it does not matter. The music by Elliot Goldenthal was too good for the movie but not by as much as I feared. There were a couple of sequences where I was not distracted by the actors' CGIosity. A laudable effort, but it's no Tron!

CBC News: Amputee controls bionic arms with a thought

CBC News: Amputee controls bionic arms with a thought
This is so much cooler than using roaches to control airplanes.

Another photo sharing service

Picasa Web Albums - Kyle Where DO they get the bandwidth?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Grizzly Man

Werner Herzog speaks quietly. Whenever he says "Amy" I cannot but help think of Kif from Futurama. This in no way detracts from an impressive presentation of found art. I think Treadwell (The "Grizzly Man") was a misguided jerk, albeit with wacko charm, for acclimating bears to humans. Herzog has projected his own particular worldview on the footage left behind, but he is not wrong in seeing Treadwell as a filmmaker. Some of the footage is really good. But what a jerk! Herzog has found a fine addition to his roster of the misunderstood and the incomprehensible characters. Not merely alienated, thay have at their centers deep reserves of otherness.

The making of the soundtrack feature records the intense guided improv sessions that Herzog used instead of having a score written. He articulates his frustration at his lack of musical ability at the outset, but his hand gestures and body language as he agonizes trying to get a musical idea across without the means to hand. It's satisfying to see when he gets the result that he imagines in his head.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Schwarzenegger apologizes over remark

Schwarzenegger apologizes over remark: "Schwarzenegger aides routinely tape his speechwriting sessions so the writers can keep a record of his thoughts and speaking patterns."
For later integration into the T-800, no doubt.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Aviator

Cool planes. Leonardo diCaprio was OK and not unbelievable as a mental patient. Much too much was made of Cate Blanchett's Katherine Hepburn role. Congressional hearing sequences are duller than the real thing, keep it moving, show me more crazy! Were there feet in Kleenex boxes? I can't remember, it's been months since I watched it.

Over the Hedge

Apparently this is based on a comic strip but has been transmogrified beyond recognition. Completely forgettable, mostly benign. Too many fart jokes.

The Razor's Edge

Another entry in the "shoulda seen" category. Bill Murray is not the worst thing about this well-intentioned misfire, that is reserved for Catherine Hicks, who is all too well cast as a brittle, shallow, grasping harridan. It was nice to see Saeed Jaffrey. A generous, uninspired production, it is not compelling in any way. Thoroughly American.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Real Frog!

This charning amphibian, perhaps able to sit within the compass a 50¢ piece, watched placidly as I helped Malyn move from her apartment. Is it native? It's so bright!
  Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Untermonken


Emphatically not a stylized representaion of my opinion of the greater body of my putative co-workers. No sirree. Nope.

Webcam Capture of Mystery

Merlin

I was phone-polled about Merlin and I scoffed at the notion of Martin Short in an Arthurian movie. As it turns out, he's merely another distraction in a jumble of distractions: Sam Neill's rugged, sly charisma without a trace of otherworldliness, Miranda Richardson's utter camp, Short's indulgent clowning, and low-rent but well-designed CGI.
And what is up with Sir John Gielgud's appearance? One line hat is half grunt? A less-than-incidental character? Incomprehensible. On the plus side, the show is a lot of fun to watch and avoids many TV movie blunders. "The making of ..." emphasizes the short production schedule which resulted in a lot of single takes. Lots of rough patches to be sure, but we get to see the actors applying their skill. I am looking at you, Robert Bresson!

Taxi Driver

I want to see most movies, but I don't get around to it. (See most of my posts since November). The first such was M*A*S*H bust that was because I was too young. I saw it in the VHS era. Taxi Driver is one of the first instance caused by my own non-volition. I was too young to see the movie in the theaters, natch, but I knew by college that it was something that I needed to see. Now, thirty years later:
Everyone calls Bickle a monster, but he's just a little more messed up than average. He just needs a friend! But not another near-psycho cabbie like "Wizard."
Scorsese sure knows his city. He managed to paint (with his use of saturated colors, smeared lenses, etc, that is almost literally so - much closer to a painterly effect than poor mannered Bresson) a specific view of New York.
Most disturbing part was in the "Making of ..." Censors demanded that in the climax that colors be de-saturated to preserve R rating. (!!!) Appalling nannyism! I see their point: de-saturating the colors certainly lessened the effect. Scorsese should have sued. Oh well, spilt milk etc. Possible to fix, I suppose, but historicity, etc.
I look forward to Taxi Driver vs Alien.

The Purple Plain

Low rent business with Gregory Peck in an especially granitey performance. The most vivid moment is provided by a lizard. No Twelve O'Clock High this.

Lancelot du Lac

A Man Escaped was great film-making. Lancelot du Lac is just silly in the silliest of euro-silliness. The idea, I think, is to show the human side of the love triangle except Bresson eschews humans which leads to extreme comedy. I was laughing the whole way through.

Fitzcarraldo

Everyone says Fitzcaraldo is about a man with an obsession. Well maybe. But everyone in the movie is mostly crazed. Fitzie's urbane manner puts him in the not-so-crazy side of the equation in my reckoning. Fitzcarraldo's attitude at the end of the movie is a good example of someone with the right attitude. Actually pulling a boat up a big hill is just silly, of course, but that's Herzog's problem. (see Making of ...)
A triple-pulley system plays an important part in the plot. The same week that I watched I visited the Seattle Science Center with a beloved child and there was an opportunity to play with a similar set-up.

Golem

Co-director Wegener carries the whole picture with his baleful gaze. Art direction fantastic, literally not figuratively. Much commented as proto-Frankenstein as in James Whale Frankenstein and deservedly so. Except for the whole puppet-of-Hell/Kill All Humans problem, the Golem is very sympathetic.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Blueberry Picking

Spent part of the day picking blueberries (10#!) near Mt. Si. Then we visited Snoqualmie Falls. The berries were turned into cobble before there was chnace for pictures. They were blue. And round. Many were snacked upon before getting home.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I grieve for Bainbridge Island.

The pressures of urban sprawl have overtaken Bainbridge Island and sucked all the goodness out of it. If the city and the new residents do anything other than back off and lay down their development schemes, theu can kiss their souls good-bye. "Widow-makers." What a weenie. Tell you what, Paul Bunyan, we'll swap houses and I'll live in Deadfall Alley with Farmer Suyematsu and you can cower under your BMW.

Tree clearing plan at farm sparks uproar



By TRISTAN BAURICK Staff Writer
Aug 05 2006

Vista Drive neighbors want better views, while a long-time farmer digs in.

Akio Suyematsu – at 84 years and just over 5 feet tall – isn’t going to budge if the chainsaws come.

“I’d like to see them take my trees,” Suyematsu said Thursday, after learning of a city proposal to remove and prune trees he planted nearly 60 years ago on his family’s Day Road farm. “If I’m here, I’ll kick ’em out.”

But the 15-acre farm is now city property, purchased from Suyematsu five years ago as open space while allowing Suyematsu to work the land until 2012.

Residents along neighboring Vista Drive to the east have complained that the narrow stand of approximately 80 trees blocks views and are a danger to their homes.

The City Council on Wednesday will discuss an agreement with seven Vista Drive property owners allowing an arborist to trim branches for improved west-facing views, which includes farm fields, a vineyard and the Olympic Mountains. Eight trees judged dead or dying would also get the axe as a safety measure, according to the proposal.

In return, the city would gain the right to maintain a narrow irrigation and stormwater ditch cut by Suyematsu’s family. The ditch, which helps prevent flooding in Suyematsu’s berry fields and other agricultural lands, bisects nine Vista Drive residents’ properties and is almost entirely outside of the city’s property, according to city staff.

The ditch’s location touched off a property dispute after Vista Drive was developed in the 1960s.

The city, in an effort to avoid costly litigation, crafted a proposal aimed at compromise between the city and residents.

Vista Drive residents commended the city for its work over the last year in trying to reach a compromise.

“They don’t want our seven or eight lawyers with their one lawyer,” said Vista Drive resident Walter Braswell. “The city has enough on its plate other than dealing with this.”

Braswell and other residents expressed hope that the agreement will improve safety and the aesthetic value of their properties.

“One of the branches came down on my house four years ago,” said Braswell. “It put a 4-inch hole in my roof. We want to get rid of these widow-maker trees.”

Braswell also wants additional limb trimmings to better enjoy views from his property.

“That’s the reason we came here – the quality of life,” he said. “It’s about sharing the panoramic view and the pastoral view. Many people like to look at the farm.”

But Suyematsu and other farmers on Day Road would prefer not to have a view of Braswell’s home.

“One of the values of this place is you don’t see sprawl,” said winemaker Gerard Bentryn, who owns vineyards adjacent to the Suyematsu property. “What the city’s proposing will be is a kick in the island’s scenic pants.”

Suyematsu said he planted the trees – many of which are 40 to 60-foot Douglas firs – to conceal the residential development as it cropped up next to his farm.

“When I sold the property to (the city), I said, ‘no houses, and you better not cut my trees,’” he said.

Suyematsu has allowed Vista Drive residents to trim his trees in the past. But his view of his neighbors and the city has soured.

“They’re double-crossers,” he said. “If I die tomorrow, (the city) will probably come in and build houses.”

Ann Frothingham, whose family owns two parcels bordering Vista Drive, hopes the agreement will cause no ill-will with Suyematsu or Day Road’s farmers.

“I love Akio...and I love the trees,” she said. “I wish they weren’t firs. They grow a hundred feet high. I think (replacing them) with some flowering trees would be lovely.

“But there’s no question they impact the property when you look out at a line of firs.”

Some methods prescribed by an arborist’s assessment commissioned by the city and conducted by Seattle-based Tree Solutions include the removal of some lower limbs, re-cutting the tops of trees that were lopped off in the past and removal of young alders to reduce future pruning and possible safety risks.

Island plant pathologist Olaf Ribeiro, who has consulted for the city on tree retention issues in the past, has strong doubts about the Tree Solutions’ assessment.

“It upset me,” he said. “It’s all about taking out trees and topping them and nothing about saving them or improving the vigor of the trees. Several of the trees could be treated with just mulch and fertilizer.”

Ribeiro is also concerned that tree removal could destabilize the surrounding slope and flood farmland below.

“Those are big trees and it’ll make a big difference,” he said. “You’ll definitely see flooding down there.”

While arborists, city officials and home owners may debate the future of the trees, Suyematsu says the answer is simple: he was there first.

“If I was here last, I wouldn’t say too much,” he said. “But this farm was already here. My dad came here in 1928. Now these houses come here and they have more rights than me? That’s not right.”

Monday, August 07, 2006

My head, it explodes!

"If folksonomies aren't tagged by the technorati, who or what will linkroll the mashups? The impact on the remixability of emergent systems will likely be severe."

Sunday, August 06, 2006

"Aren't you a little short for a ..."

The Toa Maiden attempts to infiltrate the Toa Squadron.

Even More Nature

Some wasps (mud-daubers?) had the bad luck to make a nest in a tube of Christmas wrapping paper in my garage. All would have been well for them if I had not heard their buzzing echoing out of the tube. I knocked the nest out of the tube: here it is. Warning! Insect ookiness!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Silly!

The webcam caught me making a funny face:

Toa Squad

The Toa Maiden finds herself at the head of a squad of Toa.


I received the free live CDs that I requested from Ubuntu yesterday and have manaed to get a basic install working on M's desktop machine that Died the Death®. Lots of details to figure out: higher screen resolution, sound, Java run-time, and so forth. It is good enough for now.

Friday, August 04, 2006

P.I.C.N.I.C.

I was all prepared to go all indignant about my inability to post but it turns out that I probably ran out of space at my ISP. Oops. I deleted a bunch of old files and lo! I can post again. It's good to live within one's means although you'd think they'd up my storage at least temporarily and send me an alert. Oh, well. They are not one of the big dogs of ISPs so I am prepared to cut them some slack.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Toa Maiden and Toa Inika

The Toa Maiden meets new Toa

20060803 afternoon

The day has been uneventful with only the usual disheartening, barely understandable and thoroughly juvenile behavior of some people in the call center: throwing their headsets in the trash when they spill soda all over it, posting sophomoric* notes on the bathroom door, moving the pool table with no regard for the unevenness of the floor**, general unattractiveness.

On the plus side, I cam across Writely.com, newly acquired by Google, and was provided an invite by someone in .de. //()()t!, I guess. Nice feature is that one can post directly to Blogger from within Writely. Spiffy. Or rather, it would be spiffy if Blogger were updating correctly, which it is not at the moment.

To prove that this is a blog entry, I will now record what I plan to have for dinner: the last of the roast beef from the party. Now there will be room in the freezer for the ice cube trays. Which are from Ikea and make cubes in amusing shapes which of course means that they are not cubes at all.

Nature sighting: a raccoon with cub (joey? pup?) walked by my office window. As it is broad daylight, this is probably not a good sign. Not a really bad sign, like flaming frogs from the sky, but a sign that something is somewhat amiss. Somewhere.

* "Thanks for slamming the door. I don't think they heard you at the third gate of Hell." Uproarious.

** In a more civilized place (i.e. Poole) , they'd be beaten with cue sticks until they learned better.

Ha!

This joke is not really up to Bizarro standards, but I love the look on Batman's face.

Wages of Fear

The inspiration for Sorcerer is less naturalistic (there are a few New Wave gestures here and there and stars Yves Montand after all), has fewer shadows, much more nitroglycerine, trucks that are in better repair and is by far the more relevant and superior film. Sorceror has some fantastic photography, though.

Dersu Uzala

A lovely film presents a gentle metaphor of mortality. The events are presented in double flashback: a character finds himself in the same place at different times, but little that he cares about is the same. The primary star is the taiga itself. Distributed by Roger Corman!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Cinema Paradiso (long version)

The longer version of this festival of sentimentality is too long. Still a lovely movie, although the elder Toto's sneer of a smile almost ruins the effect.

Batman vs Dracula

I was not paying attention when this version of Batman—sorry, The Batman— was aired. The series, I gather, means to take up the tale in the early part of Batman's career. This particular effort is unfocused and noisy. Some fun stuff, but this Dracula has no wit or even much in the way of brains. His vampire powers are amped way up as is consistent with the general approach of the series.

Control Room

Interesting footage from inside Al-Jazeera. Watching the American spinmasters stutter around the stupidity of their transparent lies was painful to watch. The Americans come off as officious bozos with some brief breaks for confused naivete.

Monday, July 31, 2006

2010

Unnecessary but handsome production doesn't even try to match 2001 in appearance, tone or method. Unfortunate '80s ambience and concerns are draped over Syd Mead designs. David Shire provides a score that sometimes seems to be doing right by the original production (is that a shred of Alex North in the grand (and oh so not at all subtle) finale?) but what are the odds?

Sorcerer

I saw this in the theater which means I am one of a dozen or so who have seen the non-pan-and-scan presentation. An expensive failure, it is probably under-rated, but not by too much. Beautiful, sulky photography ill-served by indulgent editing and weak screenplay.
I had a poster from this movie in my room. I cannot imagine what my parents thought of that.

Troy

Successful in making the case that Achilles can be considered a rock star in the Homeric idiom. Brad Pitt's choreography and body sculpting were put to good use. Otherwise, the tedium is interrupted by flatness followed by seriously bad acting. Too many culprits to list, a cursed production. Compare and contrast Kingdom of Heaven, which far from great cinema, was beautifully done and not too, too silly.

Ghost World

Whatever this movie aims to do, it must have done it, because I was very effected by the time I got to the end. There may have been a lot of cheating via manipulation of the tone of the movie, but maybe that is my problem for allowing certain signals to mean something that they don't necessarily need to represent. Anyway, by the end, I bought the whole thing hook, line and sinker. It's a fantasy turned real, which is not only difficult to do, but hard to accept as a viewer. A few pacing problems surrounding the character Dana, but those are technical quibbles.

Hello, Darth!

From the files of Cory Doctorow: Hello Darth.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Yo, V!

kyle_beatty: whither cranium?!
kyle_beatty: added RAM to iBook as part of more-serious move away from thrice-bedamned Windows
kyle_beatty: Google Notes not earth shattering instance of net application
kyle_beatty: Bionicle starting to annoy just because they take up too much room
kyle_beatty: Still on vacation?
kyle_beatty: If I had a cat its breath would smell of cat food.
kyle_beatty: we set up a trap for call center imps. We built a closet with a one way door and a sign that says 'cat fud' . The call center managers were not amused. I think they were more alarmed at the potential for proving just how special their employees are (which would reflect badly on them) rather than the lack of regard that IT feels for anyone's feelings or the managers' authority, which is nonexistent. My boss has forbidden the frozen turkey giveaway/catapult because of considerable legal liability potential. Counterproposal to use live turkeys denied on the basis of "inhumaneness." He invoked Carlson's Despair and that was the end of that!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

There's Nature Out There

One evening after an especially taxing day at work, the boss took the team out to dinner. As we were leaving the restaurant, a deer ran through the parking lot. A human was trying to shoo it away from traffic, but it went where it wanted to go. It was utterly silent.

Standing at an open door to an apartment, a small cup was dropped and it rolled into the flowerbed. When I picked it up, there was a wee brown frog in the cup.

A flock of wrens were roosting one recent evening in a bush beneath my office window. I stuck my head out the window to get a better look and they were not at all disturbed. They continued to gather in the bush, sometimes looking over at me.

I saw a hummingbird in the apple tree the day before yesterday.

Update: A duck and four siblings were walking at full speed along Juanita way. It was adorable.

Night of the Hunter

Who knew that Robert Mitchum had such a nice singing voice. Too bad that every utterance out of his mouth is creepier and more disturbing than the last. Makes deNiro's Cape Fear performance look positively comforting and calming. A must-see movie.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Seattle Places Continue to Deprecate

They either disappear or are degraded beyond recognition: The Dog House, Murphy's, Conor Byrne's, the entirety of Pioneer Square, Leilani Lanes, Fremont for the most part, the Ave, Broadway, Cranium, soon the Blue Moon ... some of it is inevitable and some is arguably a good thing but it all saddens me. I know that every generation has precisely the same complaint. And every generation has been correct!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Toa Inika

I'll be buying this latest iteration of Bionicle, but my enthusiasm is blunted. They are burdened with an assortment of gimmicks (glow in the dark this, light up that), the very stink of shark-jumping.
The name makes me think 'iniquity' which is a bit of a stretch vocabulary-wise for the typical Bionicleer.

So Many New Lego Sets

So many Lego sets to admire: Viking ship, Jabba's sail barge, Batman's Bat Cave, Arkham Asylum (!), Bikini Bottom, and the Krabby Patty. Slight complaint: the Squidward mini-fig has only two legs. I mean, come on! On the other hand, they are normal mini-fig legs while Spongebob and Mr. Krabbs have the hipless, mini-mini-fig legs. i.e. child-stature legs.
I will post pictures when time permits.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Oxi-clean

From the label: "Do not leave mixture in airtight container ... danger ... bursting ... dispose of mixture within six hours ..." Sounds only a little bit less dire than Gremlins or nitroglycerin.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Smallville

Another entry in the "I'll-get-around-to-watching-it-oh-it's-cancelled-already" catalog. The pilot hooked me but good. The introduction of Kryptonite was especially well done and even better, was not overplayed. Although the accompanying exposition was redundant. A little bit overplayed then ... it worked for me as long as I don't think about it too hard. Which is good when discussing Superman, because if you think about his alter-ego, well, it all falls apart. I mean, look at him. He's a freaking god, already, for the love of Mike! Who could be fooled by this!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Metropolis

More plotted than the version by Fritz lang, this take on the protodystopia has its own fascination. Lang's ur-fembot was a terror, to be sure, but more in a Carrie Nation / Ayn Rand vein than this version. Tima has been recast as a victim of circumstances and not really an active agent of the plan to crush der Volk, who by the way are also robots. Some striking imagery is at odds with the character design which would not offend the sensibility of Tin Tin.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Inu-Yasha

My girlfriend's children spent part of the weekend watching episodes of Inu-Yasha The demons that have to be battled are imaginative and scary even in the context of Japanese demons which are signally varied and alarming. Good adventure stuff

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Wild Waves

My first visit to Wild Waves (link) was a hoot. Every town should have a couple of giant water slides and a wave pool. Sun burn was minimal. A good time was had by all.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Bush: Hungarian revolt should inspire Iraq

The Pretender should be more circumspect in what he wishes for. What is he trying to say? That in 30 years, the Iraquis will be rid of the foreign invader? Or, that the revolution will be ruthlessly crushed?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Re: Resuscitating Book Club

Apologies for the lacuna in book selection. I submit now these, you gentles.

Kurlansky, Mark.
Salt: A World History.
Penguin Group. 2003.

and / or
Kurlansky, Mark.
Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World.
Penguin Group. 1998.
Vince has been going on about
Salt ... ever since he read it when it was new. Someone told me that Salt... is an offshoot of the Cod ... book.

Gardner, John.
Grendel. Vintage Books. 1971.
I've been meaning to re-read this for well, decades now. Will it be as good now as I thought it was then? The current movie is not based on this book. Although there is an animated movie from Australia written by John Gardner called
Grendel Grendel Grendel. Also from iMDB: "In 1982, his novel, 'Grendel', was adapted as a stage play by Indianapolis actor Bart Simpson, who is now the artistic director of
The Blue Monkey Sideshow."

Eliot, George.
Silas Marner.
Dover. 1861.
The Fishing News! Pfft! Let's get it right from the melodramatic source. Lisa Simpson's favoritebook. Wait, no. Lisa Simpson's favorite book is Ethan Frome. Never mind about Lisa. Or the Fishing News. Silas Marner is another one of those Queen Anne waists, threshing in the background, tea and tatting in the parlor, muddy boots, talkity-talk books. I'm sure there's a deacon or two to spare and any number of bloodless parsons.

Flaubert, Gustave.
Madame Bovary
. Dover. 1886.
Translated by Eleanor Marx-Aveling, daughter of Karl Marx.


Atwood, Margaret. The Blind Assassin. 2001.

I looked at this on a remainder table once and it has been in the back of my mind ever since. Won a prize. Did we do a different book by Atwood?

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Madness of King George

Moral: don''t go crazy in the 18th century even if you are the king. Beautiful production but performances are hopelessly broad and unaffecting. Yet another pantomime-worthy Prince of Wales. Why don't they just cast Prince and have done with it?

Tokyo Godfathers

One-note script tells us far too many times that the homeless have feelings too. That they are all homeless more or less by choice undercuts some of the message. The finale is ludicrous. Lovingly animated.

Samurai Spy

Even though there is a thorough exposition, I could not keep track of the players. A drawwn out Mexican stand-off. Appropriately claustrophobic.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Day of the Jackal

Hypnotic semi-documentary. A tour-de-force to the last frame. A good follow up to The Killing.

Bad day at Black Rock

Spencer Tracy is over the top but he manages to make his transformation from all around great guy to sociopathic madman (no, it's not Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) almost believable. Fritz Lang never directed a more plausible mob than these bored crackers.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Fury

Spencer Tracy is over the top but he manages to make his transformation from all around great guy to sociopathic madman (no, it's not Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) almost believable. Fritz Lang never directed a more plausible mob than these bored crackers.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Lego for less than half price

 
 
The set is hokey, however. The "mutant" T-Rex is perhaps only a bit more posable than the old AMC model from the '70's. Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 28, 2006

Marathon Man

Here's a fun drinking game: Take a drink every time there is a double cross. You will pass out before the end of the second act. Someone should render it into Shakespearean prose so that Olivier can get more screen time. Dustin Hoffman has never been more believable than as a naive horndog.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Requiem for a Heavyweight

I only knew this as part of Rod Serling's resume, so it seemed high time to watch it. I found it interesting to watch Robert Wise make the most out of not very much. More of a mood piece (well, it is Rod Serling, after all) than great cinema.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Seventh Seal

Man, you just want to punch Death right in the gut! What a right bastard Death is. Prick!
Surprisingly, not the moodiest Bergman movie. Far from it!

Henry V

This is a hard sell for those more accustomed to the Kenneth Branagh takes on Shakespeare. The conceit of progressively more naturalistic performance and simultaneously more stylized milieu as the play progresses may be more information than some may want. Repeated viewings are warranted but I found myself distracted by a sense that Olivier is thinking about something else in every scene. Maybe it's just me.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Aguirre: Wrath of God

All one needs to know about this movie is that one must watch it through to the very end. That is not to say that the matter preceding the end is not worth watching on its own for it is, but the finale is in a class of its own.

Big Fish

Another Tim Burton movie about leafless trees, minds of doubtful sanity but unquestioned clarity and a whopping great dollop of sentimentality. This could have been several more interesting, but unmarketable, smaller movies, or even a miniseries. I love Albert Finney but i wanted to punch him in the gut the whole time.

On the Beach

Optimistic fantasy portrays humans as dignified and noble as they face nuclear annihilation. As if. Only slightly less improbable as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and then only because of the presence of oompa-loompas. Gregory Peck has his stoic schtick on full display while Fred Astaire does his level best to steal the show. Maybe it's all a radiation sickness-induced hallucination. This notion is supported by the interminable repetitions of Waltzing Matilda.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Fail-Safe

Poor cousin to Dr. Strangelove has all the makings of a great movie, but doesn't quite make it. The best moments belong to Henry Fonda. Compare and contrast his portrayal of a world-weary president with Frederic march in Seven Days in May.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I, Robot Is a Bad Movie

Wild Wild West meets A.I.

RoboFlop - The mechanical heart of I, Robot. By David Edelstein

RoboFlop - The mechanical heart of I, Robot. By David Edelstein: "There are people who regard Proyas' Dark City as a masterpiece for the ages—I believe Roger Ebert holds seminars in which he goes through the movie frame by frame for something like two years with breaks only for Yom Kippur and Lent."

I, Robot | The A.V. Club

I, Robot | The A.V. Club: "Only in Hollywood could Asimov's robot theory somehow get processed into a sassy grandmother with sweet-potato pie at the ready."

I, Robot (Roger Ebert)

:: rogerebert.com :: Reviews :: I, Robot (xhtml): "You can't even be mad at them, since they're only programs. Although, come to think of it, you can be mad at programs; Microsoft Word has inspired me to rage far beyond anything these robots engender."

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Seven Days in May

The final scene is one of my all-time favorite performances from Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster. The premise of the movie (an American putsch) is all too likely now.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

I thought this was going to be a new production based on the book, but it seems to owe a lot more to the earlier movie. Very handsom and imaginative. The expansion into Glass Elevator is a good idea. And of course, Christopher Lee in a surgeon's smock is always welcome.

Beagle on the ferry

 

I looked up from reading the Stranger to find this squat hound staring at me. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Zardoz

Preposterous claptrap and thoroughly enjoyable. Made for a mere million dollars! And a fifth was Sean Connery's salary. Urbane commentary from Boorman worth a listen. Finale as chilling now as the first time that I saw it.

LEGO V-Wing Modification

Lego recently released a slew of Star Wars-themed sets, including a model of the V-Wing from Revenge of the Sith. It's a small set of a vessel not really featured in the movie. Normally, I am very forgiving of the design decisions made to render Lego models. It can be an ungenerous medium. However! This model has an error. The rear wings are not meant to fold over the cockpit like a broody hen, but rotate along the sides of the craft like a goose-stepping Nazi.
The correct action can be accomplished with just a few pieces: 1x2 hinge plates. After moving a few spacers around to allow for stud-play, it all works out almost exactly the same but with the correct mechanism. I think. In the movie, it's not easy to see what the ships are doing. Close enough!





Darren McGavin, Dennis Weaver, Don Knotts

You guys were great, thanks for the TV.

Zemblan Grammar

Snarky. Funny.
Zemblan Grammar

Separated at Birth?

Toa Maiden
St. Evandra

The Killing

Undeniable energy and unstoppable momentum propel every scene. Even those with the pedantic narration. I am not convinced that this isn't simply a extended joke of a rather black sort. "In a fit of pique, they napalmed Cheltenham. Even the police had to sit up and take notice."

Waking Life

Fascinating visuals do their best to inform shaggy dog story. Some great monologues.

Badlands

Beautiful psychopaths are arrested in Wyoming after some killing and some camping.
In flat black, this is the most sinister car ever made.

The Straight Story

At the ragged end of creation, souls as weathered as planets wheel but do not orbit. David Lynch finds reminders of mortality every few miles of the journey, but none so forcefully as in Sissy Spacek's performance. That I just watched Badlands may have had an effect. The only false notes were in a couple of supporting characters (the Deer Woman and the Tractor Mechanics). The sound design by David Lynch is outstanding.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Brain Slug in the Bathroom

Someone left their alien brain slug on the sink in the men's room. They always look bigger on their own.

brain slug
Brain Slug
Originally uploaded by kyle_beatty.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Dam Busters

The far superior stable-mate of Squadron 633. Although i am very fond of Squadron 633, it lacks Dam Busters' vitality and clarity. Also no stupid, stupid love story.

Floating Car


Another snap taken with intel cs630. It discovered a hover craft in the lane going the opposite direction. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Random pics from intel CS630 webcam

Taken during commute home. I thought it would be too dark for the camera, but a couple of the shots have nicely saturated color.

The Country Girl

Muddled screenplay undercuts ridiculous melodrama. William Holden, sly as ever, never seems to be in the same universe as the movie; too fast, too solid, too smart, too everything, he may as well be rotoscoped in from another dimension.
William Westmore was charged with the hopeless task of making Grace Kelly look haggard and tired. Her performance may be good but she is completely undone by her luminous, sculptured features. The camera can't get enough of her shoulders and chin, even while she is gasping out some pretty bad speeches (almost Padme-bad. Almost Episode III-bad.) Bing Crosby sings some and also portrays a drunk and is forced to spout half-baked dependency psycho-babble. Pauline Kael calls it "odd" and she is right.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is magic-deficient. It shows signs of having been too many times re-written for too many audiences. A couple of scenes are word-for-word faithful but the whole resembles the books only somewhat, and lacks their vim and joy entirely. Lots better than Mom and Dad Save the World.

Pom Poko

It turns out that the beasts in question are not actually raccoons, but a canid.
Americans, even Ghibli-enthusiastic Americans, are likely to be baffled at least a couple of times. The kamikaze scene's weaponry is sure to astound. At turns whimsical, tragic, brutal, manic, but never coy, the story tells a gigantic tale. The moral is that the damage that we do to nature is damage done to ourselves. Humans are not inimical monsters (see Nausicaa) but animals more foolish than most.

Bowling for Columbine

Brilliant, scattershot indictment of just about everything posits that institutionalized fear-mongering leads to violence. Famous interview with Charlton Heston is actually the least effective component because Charlton Heston is so unbelievably sad and shrunken. He wasn't as blind-sided as some have made him out to be, but he was not up to the questions that Moore asked. A few years before it would have played different as a debate between peers, but now they are too different in abilities and perspectives to communicate. A difficult place for everyone, including the audience. Good extras on the DVD.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Far From Heaven

Impossibly long-suffering alien from another planet visits confoundedly imperceptive mental case in fantasy land of stilted mannerisms resembling Earth.

Ray

Jamie Foxx was great. Reminded me forcefully of Young Man With a Horn

Purple Hair

One of LEGO's new themes is Exo-Force, an iteration of Mecha. This excitable fellow is on the side of the humans. His hair is not only purple, but is made out of some rubbery plastic instead of ABS.



Cheney Accidentally Shoots Fellow Hunter

from the article: "Fortunately, the vice president has got a lot of medical people around him and so they were right there and probably more cautious than we would have been," she said. "The vice president has got an ambulance on call, so the ambulance came."

I picture a couple of freezer chests of baboon hearts being heaved into the brush to make room. Turns out it was just an elderly Texan plutocrat and not Osama. Better luck next time, your grey eminence.

Web Failure!

Stuffed Animal in Visorak Web

Extreme Bionicle Hijinks

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